BEREA--Could 19 be the lucky number?
Browns fans can only hope as Rob Chudzinski named Brian Hoyer as the starter for this week's game against the Vikings. Hoyer will be the 19th different quarterback to start for the Browns since the team returned in 1999.
Brandon Weeden, who started the first two games, suffered a sprained thumb late in the Ravens game and is going to see a specialist on Thursday.
Chudzinski insisted that Hoyer's start is for this week.
"Brian does a number of things well," Chudzinski said. "Certainly playing in Chicago (preseason game), he gave us a spark there... and that's what we're looking for is a spark.
"We're 0-2 right now, so we're looking to shake things up to start winning games and hopefully, this will give us the spark we need."
However, Chudzinski didn't re-affirm that Weeden would regain the starting job when he is cleared to play.
"I'm going to leave all of the options open," Chudzinski said. "It's really a matter of where (Brandon's) at from a health standpoint and all of that plays into it.
"We'll get to and evaluate where Brandon is at and everything else, week to week."
Chudzinski was asked if he'd like to not have any question on who the starting quarterback is.
"You'd like to, but the bottom line is you want to play the guy who gives you the best chance to win."
Weeden was on a stationary bike during practice and he as asked about Chudzinski not committing to him when he's able to return.
"I don't worry about that."
The move came as a bit of a surprise as Jason Campbell has been the backup quarterback all through the preseason and Hoyer leap frogged over Campbell for the start.
"It's a bit unusual," Joe Thomas said.
"You can't be surprised about at anything in this league," Davone Bess said.
"I'm excited to see Brian out there," Thomas said. "Brian showed some good things in the preseason. It's unfortunate that Brandon got hurt.
"Brian's a really smart player, who plays with a great tempo," Thomas said. "I think he's going to do a great job for us."
"Brian will do great," Weeden said. He's a good player."
But Chudzinski insisted it was due to Hoyer's skill set, although he wouldn't specify what that is.
"I feel like based on our current situation of where we're are at, offensively, as well as getting into the game planning for Minnesota, that Brian's strengths are the best fit for this week and that he gives us our best chance to win," he said.
"From a game plan standpoint--I don't want to get into too much detail-- the things that (Hoyer) does well, fit what we need."
When asked again, Chudzinski said he didn't view much difference in all three of the team's quarterbacks.
"I think its more a fit for what we need this week," he said. "There wasn't a lot of separation from those three guys. I have confidence in all of them. What I want to do is give us the best chance to win and put the guys out there that give us the best chance to win."
Chudzinski was asked if Hoyer lights it up, it might be tough to go back to Weeden.
"I don't see it like that," Chudzinski said. "We'll see how things are going, how Brandon is doing from a health standpoint and evaluate it on a weekly basis and again, put the guy out that gives us the best chance to win, whoever that is."
Although a different situation due to Weeden's injury, in 2007 when Chudzinski was the Browns offensive coordinator the team traded Charlie Frye to Seattle a day after losing the opener. Derek Anderson stepped in and the Browns finished 10-6. He was asked if he thought about that.
"I don't think it contributed, but it evidenced that change can be good," he said. "It remains to be seen how Brian plays. I'm expecting him to play well. Again, everything that I do and all decisions I make all revolve around us giving us the best chance to win."
It has been no secret that GM Mike Lombardi has been high on Hoyer since his days with the Patriots behind Tom Brady. Chudzinski was asked if he made the decision on the starter and not Joe Banner or Lombardi.
"Absolutely, (it's) my decision."
Hoyer said he's ready, despite having just one career start. However, he says the start against the 49ers last year helped him.
"It helps," he said. "You know you've been there before and done it. It's a little bit different circumstance, where I had only been (in Arizona) for three weeks. Football is still football, whether it's the preseason or regular season. Obviously, these games mean more. Its my fifth year and I've played in games sparingly, starting one. I've gotten my fair share of playing.
"Once you (start), you know what it's like," he said. "It's kind of like riding a bike. You know you're the guy who's going to be out there taking that first snap. Obviously, getting a whole week of preparation ahead of time (is important). It's not like they're springing this on me on Saturday night or Sunday morning. I know what is going to happen. I started two seasons in the Big 10, started last year and I played whole halves while I was in New England. Like I said, football is football. You go out, the play is called and read the defense and react."
In the start last year against the 49ers in the final regular season game for the Cardinals, Hoyer was 19-of-34 for 225 yards and a touchdown and an interception.
"In that situation, I was still at the point of learning what the offense was doing," he said. "I was more concerned with knowing the plays that we were going to be running. Now, I have a handle on this offense and I can focus on the defense."
Hoyer think he played pretty well, despite being with the Cardinals for just three weeks.
"Every time you go out you're putting your resume on the line," he said. "I still think I played pretty well. We played a defense that went to the Super Bowl and I think when it comes down to it, football is football.
"Obviously, this week I get a full week of practice and can focus on Minnesota."
Hoyer said he learned much being behind Brady for three years in New England.
"If anything, it's kind of a mindset that I gained by being there as far as having a sense of urgency and paying attention to detail, the little things. I think the little things help you take care of the big things," he said. "There's probably not a better guy to learn from. I went in every day and tried to learn from (Brady)."
Hoyer said he will be himself and will not try to do too much.
"I don't know what I bring differently, but I'm going to be myself," he said. "What I can take from what I've learned over the years, like Tom and (former Patriots offensive coordinator) Bill O'Brien. Obviously, the guys that are here like Chud and apply it to the offense. I'm not going to change who I am. I'm just going to be myself and I think that will be enough."
Hoyer knows this is a big opportunity for him, if not as the long-term starter for the Browns, but for another team.
"Every situation is unique," he said. "This is one that when I came here this is what I came here for (and that is) to play. You don't come just to be a guy. I think anybody who plays this position in this league, they want to be on the field. There's only one quarterback out there and you want to be that guy. If you don't have that drive, you really don't belong. When Chud told me the news, I was excited.
"I wish we could go out and play this game right now."
Hoyer admitted starting for the Browns is a dream come true, having grown up in Cleveland and playing for St. Ignatius.
"Like I said in training camp when I first got here," Hoyer said. "When you dream of playing in the professional leagues, you dream of playing for your hometown team. Obviously, that will be something special, but really now, it's now the business side of preparing. I think it will hit me, when it's all said and done, but right now, I'm just doing what I need to do to prepare for Minnesota."
Little Benched: WR Greg Little will not start at wide receiver. Chudzinski was asked at the end of his press briefing if WR Greg Little would start against the Vikings l
"Our starters at wide receiver will be Josh Gordon and Davone Bess."
There was no explanation if Little was demoted for his three traffic tickets earlier this week or due to his lack of production in the first two games. Little had four receptions for 33 yards against the Ravens on 12 targets. He dropped three passes. On the season, Little has eight catches for 59 yards and no touchdowns, with a long of 18 yards.
Gordon is returning after serving a two-game NFL suspension for violating the league's substance abuse policy.
Bess is the second-leading receiver with 10 catches for 85 yards.
Rubin Back, Lauvao Close: DL Ahtyba Rubin (calf) practiced and took part in most of the drills during the time the media was allowed to observe practice. OL Shawn Lauvao (ankle) did some stretching and jogged with the team at the start of practice.
"Lauvao is getting close," Chudzinski said before practice. "We'll just see where he's at. He's going to run again today and we'll see where he is in a couple of days."
Groves Out: As expected, LB Quentin Groves (ankle) was ruled out for this week's game with the Vikings.
Weeden Woes: QB Brandon Weeden was wearing a brace on his right wrist wrapped around his thumb in the locker room. Weeden was on the stationary bike during practice. Chudzinski said he will visit a specialist on Thursday.
"Early indications are it is not a long-term issue," Chudzinski said. "Everything has been positive up to this point. He'll follow up with a hand specialist (Thursday) and we'll get a better indication of his status (later this week) going forward."
Weeden said he doesn't know the extent of the injury.
"I still don't know (what's wrong)," Weeden said. "You never want to get hurt as a player.
"It's frustrating," he said. "I want to be out there."
All Day AP: RB Adrian Peterson said the Browns might regret having passed him up in the draft more than he thinks about it. Peterson admitted he thought he was going to be drafted by the Browns.
"If anything, they might be more upset than I am," he said.
The Browns chose All Pro Joe Thomas with the third pick of the draft that year, bypassing Peterson, who went to the Vikings.
Peterson feels he underperformed last week and hopes to straighten his game out this week.
"I'm just wanting to get back on track against Cleveland," Peterson said. "My mentality is built to get it done and one of the things I haven't done the last two weeks is being patient and trust the guys in front of me."
Chudzinski was asked about Peterson.
"I would be concerned about him whether he had big weeks in week one or week two," Chudzinski said. "He's a great player."
T.J. Ward agreed.
"He's such a dynamic player and tough to stop."
Peterson was asked what advice he would give to RB Trent Richardson, who has only averaged 3.4 yards a carry this season with a long run of 10 yards.
"Just keep pushing and keep grinding," Peterson said. "Just keep plugging away and eventually things will work out."